DNA Helps Alameda Police Solve 45-Year-Old Cold Case Homicide

Police say Richard Curley Bernard killed Richard Bischel Sr. on March 16, 1977 in Alameda

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Alameda police believe they have solved a murder 45 years after it happened thanks to new technology.

Richard Bischel Sr., a 43-year-old father and U.S. Marine who fought in the Korean War, was killed on March 16, 1977, while fending off a burglar in front of his Alameda home. He was stabbed 10 times and found on a sidewalk on Lincoln Avenue.

Police say they have finally cracked the case, identifying Richard Curley Bernard as the killer.

"He had been arrested and convicted for a series of Alameda burglaries along with two known rapes," retired Alameda Police Department Detective Lorenzo Graham said Tuesday.

Graham is a member of the police department's cold case unit. He said his team resubmitted a key piece of DNA evidence.

"The evidence we submitted was a jacket that the suspect was wearing the night of the attack," Graham said.

A sample of blood from that jacket was sent to Serological Research Institute in Richmond, which confirmed the blood belonged to the victim.

Detectives said they also found circumstantial evidence finally proving Bernard, who was a suspect back in 1977, was in fact the killer.

Bernard, who spent much of his life in prison for dozens of burglary convictions, was later shot and killed in Texas.

"I am happy that we've got a final resolution to this," said Richard Bischel Jr., the victim's son. "It's been on my mind for the last 45-plus years."

Bischel Jr. asked that his father's case be reopened 23 years ago.

"I don't know if there's any real closure," he said. "It doesn't change a whole lot, but we are glad that we do have a final positive ID."

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